While it’s fun to explore cities and get lost in their maze of alleyways, islands are where you should go if you want to combine relaxation and exploration in one holiday. But when choosing which island to visit, dare to dream big! Below, check out the top European islands worth a visit. Each island offers a unique charm, from pristine beaches to mysterious cultural monuments and picturesque seaside villages.
Capri is a true jewel of Southern Italy. The gorgeous island is famous for its jaw-dropping natural beauty, upscale hotels, world-class shopping, and delicious cuisine. It’s a destination where bold Italian glamour meets rustic Italian charm.
Begin your day in the Piazzetta, one of the world’s most beautiful town squares. The piazza exudes an elegant vibe, surrounded by Capri’s gorgeous mountains. Lined with sophisticated yellow buildings, Capri’s Piazzetta is where locals and visitors come to enjoy delicious coffee at one of its al fresco cafes. The Blue Grotto, a sea cave on Capri’s coast, is one of those sites you shouldn’t miss in Capri. It has extraordinary optical effects resulting from the sunlight bouncing on the cave walls, producing electric-blue water that seems to be glowing.
Like most islands, Capri boasts gorgeous beaches where you can relax and take a dip. In Capri, going to the beach is a different experience. Instead of a long and empty stretch of sand where you can sit anywhere you want, the beaches of Capri have loungers sitting in picture-perfect rows. Private beach clubs are lining its shores with bookable places to lounge, equipped with changing facilities, bars, and restaurants.
With its crystal-clear waters, stunning waterfalls, picturesque old towns, and gorgeous islands, Croatia is a country you should visit at least once in your life. While most tourists would head straight to the famous cities of Dubrovnik and Split, it’s worth checking out Croatia’s lesser-known islands.
Hvar is one of Croatia’s hidden gems, famous for its glitzy resorts and vibrant nightlife. But if you prefer islands not as crowded and noisy, you’ll find many other equally beautiful and charming islands, especially, if you’re traveling via yacht. One of these is the island of Cres. Lying in the Adriatic Sea, Cres is renowned for its 16th-century Venetian Tower and the Arsan Palace, where you’ll find the Cres Museum. Another island worth checking out is Rava, a tiny island in Zadar, home to glorious, sheltered bays and over 15 km of coastline. Here, you’ll find charming villages to explore, such as the Mala Rava and Vela Rava.
Enjoy a colourful and laidback island vibe on Iz, which sits between the islands of Dugi Otok and Ugljan. The island has many cycling and hiking routes featuring breathtaking natural scenery. You’ll love the unspoilt lush nature of Iz and its peaceful, laidback vibe, a relaxing respite from life’s daily stresses.
Crete is a big island home to bustling cities, ancient ruins, and spectacular beaches. Many visitors would come here for the beach. But this charming Greek island is also famous for its picturesque hiking routes, world-class museums, and varied landscapes.
As you can expect from an island rich in history, Crete has plenty of historical sites and incredible ruins you should check out. Explore the Bronze Age ruins of the Palace of Knossos, set amidst lush Cretan countryside. Check out the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which houses the finest collection of Minoan Arts. Meanwhile, Moni Preveli is one of the most revered sites in the island, sitting on an area overlooking the Libyan Sea. When heading to this site, it’s worth checking out the stunning beaches nearby, such as the little Preveli Beach.
Famous for its sandy beaches and secluded coves, no trip to Crete is complete without a visit to the beach. Head to Elafonisi, a tiny islet home to idyllic beaches, which you can reach on foot from the mainland of Crete. Lying along the island’s west coast, the shallow waters of Elafonisi are breathtakingly beautiful!
Ibiza is one of the most visited islands in Spain and has a reputation for being a destination for wild parties. International DJs would visit the island to play at its world-famous nightclubs and posh beach clubs. But Ibiza is not only about partying. It’s also an island of incredible beauty, home to charming villages and stunning beaches.
Although Ibiza is relatively small, it’s packed with amazing sights and incredible things to do. Explore Ibiza Town, which boasts a walled fortress and pretty cobblestone streets. Check out Dalt Vila, a historic area home to world-class restaurants and a great selection of bars. Beside Dalt Vila is Eixample, a more modern area of Ibiza with newer buildings, where you’ll find the luxury end of villa accommodation. When exploring Ibiza Town, visit the Our Lady of the Snows Cathedral, which overlooks the gorgeous views of the ocean.
Ibiza also boasts many beautiful beaches. If you’re looking for a relaxing beach break, head to the quieter beaches of Cala Xarraca or Cala Pluma. But if you prefer a lively scene, check out Platja d’en Bossa, which boasts the longest beach on the island dotted with world-famous bars and restaurants.
Santorini is undoubtedly one of the world’s most beautiful islands. Famous for its romantic sunsets, Santorini is a popular destination for honeymooners. But it’s also suitable for other travellers, such as families and even solo travellers.
Due to the island’s volcanic origins, the beaches of Santorini feature distinct black sands. Along with crystal-clear waters and splendid views that open to the Aegean, the beaches of Santorini are a must-visit. The Kamari Black Beach is the most popular and has a fun nightlife. It’s bustling with restaurants and bars with facilities for water sports.
Sailing in Santorini is one of the best ways to explore the island’s scenic wonders. You can join organised cruises that will take you to its small neighbouring islets while stopping by secluded beaches. You can also enjoy activities like snorkelling and kayaking during your cruise. There are also evening cruises for couples who want a more romantic way of sailing in Santorini.